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The Longest Season

pasko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: ajuperez

And so it begins.

September 1 marks the first day of the longest Christmas Season anywhere in the world right here in our country. Malls have already begun playing Christmas tunes and everybody is starting to feel that familiar Christmas feeling of warmth and coziness. Many are already making exchanging Christmas greetings, perhaps half-jokingly, realizing that the –BER months have finally come upon us. Technically, we Catholics shouldn’t be celebrating yet; we still have several feasts to celebrate before Christmas, e.g. the birth of our Blessed Mother, the Triumph of the Cross, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, the solemnity of Christ the King, and Advent of course. But, we wouldn’t want to be so killjoy about it, so here we go: Merry Christmas!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was perhaps the first pro life family. All Joseph and Mary wanted was to lead an ordinary life as a married couple; but their lives were to be far from ordinary, as God planned it. Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit through her Fiat (thy will be done!), Joseph accepted his role as Jesus’ foster father, and  they both played an active role in protecting Jesus by fleeing to Egypt when Herod ordered the infamous slaughter of the innocents. If it not for their pro life example, we wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas at all; through them we come to know what being truly pro life means: to accept God’s will for our lives. To accept God’s will means to be fully alive. That’s why our motto has always been very pro life and pro God: Obey God’s will, no to RH Bill!

Why is it that the Filipino Christmas Season is the longest Chrismas season in the world? More importantly, why is our Christmas season very, very different from the Christmases other countries celebrate?

The answer is very simple. We think that this is so because our Filipino Christmas is pro-God, pro-family, and pro-life.

This world has commercialized Christmas and reduced it to mere feelings of joy, warmth, comfort, and materialism. People have taken away God – the reason for the season – from the celebration. They have replaced him with gift-giving Santa Claus, with nary a thought about that baby born in some nondescript animal shed in Bethlehem 2000 years ago who will give us the greatest gift of all – his life, for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of all. As William Chatterton Dix wrote in 1865,

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

(second chorus, What Child Is This)

On the other hand, for the most part we Filipinos have managed to keep perspective of what Christmas truly means: Jesus born in to the world and in our hearts. Attendance at Misa de Gallo and Christmas Eve masses are still high, and the spirit of giving to those in need is still present as evidenced by more and more groups, companies, and organizations having their Christmas parties together with an outreach activity for the poorer members of the community. And mind you, that queue for confession at the kumpisalang bayan seems to get longer and longer every year; people wait for hours just for the priest to hear their confession, so they could receive Jesus with a clean heart come Christmas time!

Our Christmas is also very pro-family and pro-life. Case in point: there is nothing more that could bring tears to the eyes of a typical OFW than the thought of not celebrating Christmas with their family. We have been brought up to anticipate and celebrate Christmas in a very special fashion and the preparation and celebration of Christmas is always a SACRED family affair. Kuya and Tatay prepare the Christmas decorations, Ate and Nanay prepare the food. Christmas Eve dinner is an occasion for the family to sit down together and partake of the food; no matter what is prepared, whether it be a simple lugaw or a lavish feast for the belly, what makes the meal so special is the family that shares it, from Daddy down to Bunso.

All of us have our own Christmas memories. Mine are of late night caroling, sipping hot chocolate, over-eating and promising, in vain, to be mindful of my diet, and the presence of family and friends. The clothes I bought, all the gifts I received from Christmases past are all gone, but the memories will last forever. The gaiety, cheer, and joy that we celebrate Christmas cannot be compared to any other Christmases. Try asking any Filipino who have gone abroad and celebrated Christmas there, and expect to hear the same thing: Iba talaga ang Paskong Pinoy!”

This is perhaps the reason why we anticipate Christmas this early. The Filipino Christmas isn’t only the longest season. It is the most beautiful season.

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